Family enjoying Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner together around the dining table at grandmother's home.

So, so many family celebrations.

It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) for this reason. Usually, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s pleasing to look forward to. You get to reunite with everybody and see what they’ve been doing!

But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family get-togethers might seem a little less inviting. Why is that? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family get-togethers?

Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant when you employ a few go-to tips developed by hearing specialists.

Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season

Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also so much to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.

These tips are developed to help be certain that you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.

Steer clear of phone calls – instead, use video calls.

For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.

Phones present an interesting conundrum when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call vexing indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually get better, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
  • Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.
  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.

When people recognize that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.

Find some quiet areas for talking

You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.

Here’s how to handle it:

  • By the same token, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
  • Try to find spots that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the individuals speaking with you (and help you read lips as a result).
  • Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
  • There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. That might mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.

Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Politely begin walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
  • Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.
  • If there’s music playing in the area, politely ask the host to turn the music down so you can hear your niece a little better.

Speak to the flight crew

So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers that aren’t as apparent? You know, the ones you may not see coming?

When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. It’s important that you can comprehend all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really crucial to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or experience hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if necessary. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!

Take breaks

It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself exhausted more often than you used to. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.

Consider getting hearing aids

How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!

One of the greatest benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family over the holidays smoother and more fulfilling. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.

Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.

It may take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until just before the holidays to pick them up. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t have to get through the holidays alone

It can feel as if you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you’re not alone. You can navigate many of the challenges with our help.

The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or nervousness (that is, any more than they typically are). With the correct strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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